You know you’ve become the domesticated version of yourself when you send an email to your husband with the contents of a revenge plot on your neighbors.
We’ve been living in our new home for over 2 months now. Since then I’ve learned a lot of lessons. For one thing, I am about as good as picking out paint colors as I am at swimming backstroke. Is it possible to go backwards when swimming backstroke? Is it possible to go backwards even while pulling on the lane line? After painting one of the bathrooms and excitedly telling Chris I was ready to paint another one, he said:
Liz, stick to what you're good at.
That explains how I found time to write today.
If you ever find yourself looking to paint your house, do yourself a favor: hire a professional. Picking out paint and interior designing by yourself is kind of like coaching yourself. You probably have the basic skills but you also risk turning the room (or yourself) into a train wreck of paint splatters and messy brush strokes. Right now we have half dozen different shades of red in our dining room, a few more shades of green in a bathroom and the master bath is 3 shades of gray. Luckily, I had a come to Jesus moment with myself where I said really, Liz, this painting things yourself is not working out, you’re having some of your worst all time performances with a paintbrush here. The next day, I hired a professional painter.
Back to the revenge. It was Wednesday, around 2 pm, when my quiet neighborhood broke out in a rage of 3 men all using a gas powered blower simultaneously. As I watched them, angry, out the window while Max abruptly woke from his afternoon nap (a nap which – at times – can last up to 4 hours if it is quiet enough), I had to restrain myself from going over there and requesting they come after 3 pm.
So I sent Chris an email: I’m moving the lawn at 6 am on Saturday.
I’ll have gas in the mower.
But the joke was on me. Better yet, the joke was watching me mow the lawn. Next time I buy a house, remind me not to buy one that sits on a hill. I just did one of the hardest workouts of the week. Chris, watching from a window, even noticed me using my “this is really hard work face”, a face I usually reserve for 40K intervals or 5Ks. I gave up with one yard to go (we have 4 yards – it’s complicated). Chris took over. He came downstairs dressed in his “man work” outfit. Every husband has an outfit like this. The one outfit that if seen in public, you would disavow your marriage and claim you’ve never seen him before.
Let me paint the picture (on second thought, given my lack of painting skills, let me just write it out before someone ends up with paint in their hair): Chris’ man outfit is a forest green t-shirt accompanied by army green cargo pants. I’ll let that catastrophe of color slide. What I cannot ignore is what the shirt says. In white velvety cursive letters, the front of the shirt reads:
Will Bark On First Date
I won’t tell you what the shirt originally said. One can only watch her grown adult husband wear a shirt with the word F*CK on it so many times before she takes a black Sharpie and writes BARK right over it. And, yes, all this while he was actually wearing the shirt. Where he got the shirt? No idea. This was one of about a half dozen shirts that magically appeared in his drawer before Ragbrai.
And this is why wives don’t belong on Ragbrai. No wife should be forced to be seen in public with her husband wearing a shirt like that.
I really enjoyed watching Chris do yardwork while wearing that shirt and flower-patterned gardening gloves. This is the domesticated version of my husband. The one that can be seen pulling a wagon with Max and Boss up and down the street. The one who tries to seamlessly weave working outside the home, being dad and training for triathlons. He does his best to make sure he never lets a workout get in the way of spending time with Max – which is why I barely see him. There’s no way I’m getting up before 5 am unless we’re going to a race.
The other day, Chris was doing a recovery spin and had put the ever so patient Boss and Max into the Burley together. He also gave Max a cup of Cheerios and a water bottle. A few miles later, he says he heard a ruckus. Note that in parenting, a ruckus often precedes that moment where your child says “UH OH” which usually means something very bad just happened. Chris stopped, turned around and in the Burley sees a mess of Cheerios stuck to the plastic covering and a soaking wet Boss. We’re still in the throwing things phase. Which I’m convinced they never grow out of. Along with the dumping the dog’s water bowl phase. It’s been 21 months and you’d think that it would be getting old by now!?
Chris had another shining moment of domestication last week. In the coin toss of who would get to watch Max now, Chris flipped tails which meant he got to take Max into the bathroom with him while he showered. Depending on Max’s mood, this can be an easy or bad – VERY BAD – thing. There have been times I’ve had to jump out of the shower, pick something up off the floor only to hear a giggling Max behind me playing a game I call Fluffy Pillows. That’s where he hits my ass cheeks and laughs his own ass off. By the way, this does amazing things for my self-esteem.
Anyhow, I’m in my office, working, when I hear Chris upstairs, from the shower shout NO!
I should add that this was preceded by a: ruckus.
No sooner do I get upstairs than a very naked and wet Max runs out of the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, I see an equally as naked Chris picking up what had to be 1000 dental picks off the bathroom floor.
Why are you both naked and why are there dental picks all over the floor?
Chris explains how Max took Mr. Potato Head deep sea diving in the toilet. And then poured the toilet water all over his head. Which is how he got wet, and then naked and…
The dental picks?
No idea how that happened.
The other night, Max woke up at 12:45 am. It occurred to me that at one point in my life, 12:45 am might be a time you still found me out doing things. These days, it’s the middle of the night. When everyone should be sleeping.
But not this night.
I was awoken to the sound of Max moaning and jingling a stuffed monkey that has a rattle inside of it. The only way I could describe these two sounds together, in the darkness of night, is what you might expect to hear if you were near a medieval prison cell. Max never wakes up in the middle of the night. He’s just not that kid. THANK GOD. Because getting up in the middle of the night – I’m just not that type of parent. But he was up which meant something was wrong. I got him, changed him and then he pointed at his closet. That’s where we keep his books. He was having a MUST HAVE LITERACY NOW crisis, chose two books and that’s how I found myself reading I Love Puppies at 1 am.
How can any parent refuse that?
The other day I finally took Max out for a Burley ride. I’ve never pulled the cart, only watched Chris pull it. He makes it look easy except for last week when we did a family recovery spin up to Whole Foods, heading into a stiff east wind, I look behind me to see Chris and the Burley trying to draft off me. And finally – after years of waiting for this moment – I was able to say to my husband:
Get off my freakin’ wheel.
Now it was my turn to pull the Burley. What Chris makes look so easy was actually like riding a big gear interval for 30 minutes. At 8 mph. At the end of the 30 minutes, we had covered a whopping 5.1 miles and my legs felt trashed. To make it worse, at some point during the ride Max had thrown up on himself. I’m not taking that as an indicator of how good I was at steering the Burley, instead just glad the dog wasn’t covered in it too.
Right now it’s Sunday morning. Max is running around the house with 3 pacifiers (he likes choices) shouting “n-yung n-yung” and we’re not sure what it means. He says it repeatedly. Part of me thinks it’s him saying “I want”, the other part thinks it him going back to his Chinese roots and speaking the language of his people.
A meltdown is beginning and since it’s Sunday – I’m off the clock. Chris takes over all parenting from Friday at 5 pm through Sunday at 6 pm. I sit back and think to myself – how good does that quiet cubicle sound now, eh? Max is stomping around the kitchen, crying, shouting N-YUNG N-YUNG when a frustrated Chris finally said “do you want to take a nap?”
Max says “no”.
Chris says “how do you know?”
You say shit like this to your kid, as if it matters, almost like your subsconcious which you can normally filter gets broadcasted loud and clear during your frustrating moments with children. The crying was building so I went in for the rescue and asked Max what he wanted. He pointed to a kitchen cabinet. Turns out he absolutely had to have the CuisinArt (and yes, I took the blade out of it!)
There are times I wonder if we are doing everything right in parenting – are we meeting his needs? Is he developing appropriately? Does he feel loved, safe and engaged in his world? That one time we forgot to change his diaper all day from 9 am to 6 pm – will that traumatize him for the rest of his life? Does he have enough language? Are we saying the right things and when we say the wrong things – will he remember them?
But then there are mornings where I sit at the stoplight of Columbia and Ogden, and with no prompting at all, he says “ca-ca” as he sees the Caribou off in the distance.
Ca-ca means coffee.
Which assures me that I’m doing the important things right.